World Migratory Bird Day highlights importance of ecological networks for migratory birds

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A male egret with mating plumage in Mysore Bird Sanctuary, Ranganthittu, India. UN Photo/John Isaac

The annual migration of an estimated 50 billion birds— around 19 per cent of the world's 10,000 bird species—is one of the world's great natural wonders, yet the critical staging areas migratory birds need to complete their journeys are being degraded or are disappearing completely.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) says these increasingly vulnerable sites, which act as stepping stones on migration routes, serve as a place for the birds to rest, feed and breed during their annual migration cycles. As a result of the degradation, some species may be extinct within a decade, while others are facing population losses of up to nine per cent each year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called "for greater international efforts to restore and preserve migratory birds and the network of sites they need to survive as an important part of the environment on which we all depend". "I fully support the global campaign to raise awareness about the threats to migratory birds from habitat destruction, overexploitation, pollution and climate change", he said.

Celebrated in over 65 countries on 11-12 May, World Migratory Bird Day 2013 will highlight the importance of ecological networks for the survival of migratory birds, the important human networks dedicated to their conservation, the threats migratory birds face, and the need for more international cooperation to conserve them.

Launched in Kenya in 2006, World Migratory Bird Day is organized by the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) and the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)—two intergovernmental wildlife treaties administered by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Donn Bobb, United Nations

Duration: 1’37″

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